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216             A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
Arab watchman from the nearby temple of Khonsu, I could discover no sign of the tread of shoes. All over the floor the dust lay thickly heaped and the only other disturbances in its surface were the numerous graceful patterns threaded from one hole to another by one or two tiny snakes, whose tracks were clearly visible. I speculated how long it was since tourist or traveller had disturbed the solitary silence of this shrine. I knew that one guide-book dismissed this temple with the comment that it was hardly worth a visit. I knew, too, that no visitors were welcomed or expected, for the Government Department of Antiquities had fitted a locked wooden gate across the entrance. I had been unable to obtain entrance before getting the Arab custodian of the main temple to produce a key from his bunch, to accompany me to this little shrine of Osiris and unlock this gate. Why? Was it because of these dangerous gaps in the 'floor?
What was the melning of these mysterious crypts and melancholy corridors? I remembered the curious, moat-bordered crypt, due out of forty feet of debris, which had puzzled me at Abydos.
As I pondered upon the point, the tomb-like place seemed to light up before my eyes, and I saw anew the celebration of the ancient rite which dramati2ed the death and resurrection of Osiris—that rite which I had observed carved in stone on the walls of the litde Mystery Temple that stood upon the roof-terrace of Denderah—that rite which I had seen in vision, and experienced in person, during the night I spent in the gloomy Kings Chamber of the Great Pyramid—that rite which Atiantean Osiris had left as his legacy to the High Priests of ancient Egypt.
Why were such dismal and dark places favoured for these mysterious initiations?
The answer is threefold: to ensure complete safety and secrecy for what was, after all, both a privileged and dangerous experiment: to ensure the easier entrancement of the candidate by blotting out sight of his surroundings and thus preventing distraction of his attention from the interior state he was about to enter: and, finally, to provide a perfect symbolism—so dear to the heart of the ancients—of the condition of spiritual dark-